Pelican Bus and Coach has delivered what is believed to be West Yorkshire’s first zero-emission bus fleet, which makes its debut in Leeds today (16 October).

The nine Yutong E10 battery-electric buses, alongside depot charging infrastructure, represent a £7.3m investment by First Bus in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council.

The investment includes £1.7m from the Department for Transport’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, secured by First West Yorkshire in 2019.

It is estimated that each bus will save 45 tonnes of carbon emissions per annum when compared to an equivalent Euro VI diesel bus, totalling 400 tonnes of CO2 saved with the whole fleet.

A new look for Leeds as ZE strategy takes shape

The vehicles come with new-look Leeds City Electric branding and feature audio-visual next stop technology, USB charging points, on-board wi-fi, LED lighting and air conditioning.

In an effort to ensure safety, the low-noise vehicles are fitted with an acoustic vehicle alerting system, and BusEYE early warning device to protect other motorists and pedestrians.

First West Yorkshire Managing Director Paul Matthews says: “Today marks a significant moment in our strategy to switch to a fully zero-emission fleet across the region in the years ahead.

“We have worked closely with our city and regional authority partners, and leaders in their fields at Pelican and Zenobe Energy, to combine vehicle, battery and charging technology that heralds a new era in sustainable transport.

“These all-electric buses will enable us to capitalise on the bus priority measures that have just been introduced in the city centre, helping to create cleaner air, reduce congestion and give customers reliable journey times in superior comfort.”

Charging infrastructure for the fleet has been installed at First’s Hunslet Park depot by Zenobe Energy. It has a battery energy storage system (BESS) consisting of two Tesla batteries rated at 498kW/h and 390kW/h, which will support power requirements for fleet charging and grid services. The BESS is powered by the grid and returns electricity to support the grid when charging the buses.

The buses begin operating on the Service 5 Halton Moor Circular, which includes the Leeds CityBus route through the city centre every 10 minutes between Monday and Saturday.

Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Cllr Kim Groves says: “It is great to see these fully electric and zero-emission buses being rolled out in Leeds which will give passengers a better travelling experience while benefitting the environment.

“Investment in new vehicles by operators combined with the improvements we are making to the road network to make bus travel more reliable, punctual and attractive, will help cut congestion, improve air quality and contribute to our efforts to tackle the climate emergency.”

Cllr Peter Carlill, Lead Member for Active Travel and Sustainable Transport, says he is looking forward to more zero-emission buses operating from the council’s Stourton solar-powered park and ride site in the near future. “Re-building people’s confidence in using more environmentally-friendly public transport is an important step toward achieving our carbon reduction targets and reducing polluting greenhouse gas emissions in Leeds,” he adds.